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agriculture, are dependent on the river, and must be limited to its banks or to the banks of its branches. And hence it is that advantage must rather be taken of the state of the river banks as they at present exist than by forming any large reserves of picked or chosen woods on more elevated and stable ground above the river bank. So that the cutting of wood for steamers is more a thinning of jungle which has come up in free and unrepresented growth, than a regular and systematic cutting down of portions of a planted reserve, regulated by calculations of growth and expenditure.”
Captain Hamilton was in charge of the Sind Forests during 1855-6, and submitted a Report on the working of the forests, which was the last Report, it is believed, to be reviewed by the Court of Directors (in 1856) before their disappearance as the result of the Mutiny, which was to burst upon the country the following year. At this time, owing to the neglect of these forests, there was great apprehension of the supply of fuel for the Indus Flotilla failing in a very short time.
In the following year, Mr. W. A. Dalzell was acting as Forest Ranger in charge of the Sind Forests. In reply to an enquiry from Mr. Thomas, the Collector of Coimbatore, he forwarded the following interesting Memorandum on the subject of the Forest Rules and establishment in force in Sind in 1857, the total area of forest under supervision at the time being 700 square miles.
The Memorandum is of such interest when the period at which it was written is taken into consideration that it is quoted below :
“None of the Sind forests are rented out on contract. Timber is felled under the immediate supervision of the forest karkun. The parties requiring timber make a written application to the forest ranger, stating the name of the forest, and the sizes and kind of timber required ; an order to the forest karkun to cut the timber is endorsed on the application. The receipt, along with actual measurements, is forwarded to the forest ranger's office, where the bill is made out and forwarded to the forest tuppedar for the recovery of the sum due. No timber is allowed to be cut without a written order from the forest ranger; and at the time of its being cut, either the karkun or a jamadar is present. As one or two peons are attached to the forest, valuable timber cannot easily be carried off clandestinely; at least such cases are extremely rare.
“Fuel and timber are sold in the same manner as any other commodity. Fuel is sold by retail only at one place, leading from the forest to the town of Sukkur; it is there weighed, and the money paid to the karkun stationed there; this karkun is under the supervision of the forest karkun. Fuel sold to public departments, the railway, the Indus Flotilla, etc., is paid for to the forest ranger direct, the bills being made out according to the receipts forwarded by the forest karkun to the ranger's office. Weekly statements of the balance of fuel are made to the forest ranger.
“The establishment of the forest department consists of I forest ranger, 2 deputies, I inspector, I accountant, 1 head munshi, i second munshi, 2 writers, 12 forest karkuns, 2 daroghas, 13 jamadars, 98 peons. The Forest Ranger has the general management and control over the whole department; he personally inspects the forests during six months of the year. The deputies are stationed at distant points, and assist in the inspection of the forests, sending in weekly reports of their doings. The inspector also aids in the same duties, and examines carefully the account-books of the forest karkuns.
"Each forest karkun or tuppedar has charge of four or eight forests situated within a distance, from one end of his charge to the other, of from 15 to 50 miles. He travels almost constantly from one end of his charge to the other, transacting business, such as issuing pass-notes for grazing, looking to the preparation of fuel, paying labourers, superintending the cutting of timber, measuring the same, writing his accounts, making advances of money to wood-cutters, watching the river banks, and many more things of this kind. Under each forest karkun there is one jamadar, who also travels about through the forests, seeing that the peons do their duty, and making reports to his immediate superior. One or two peons are attached to each forest; there they remain constantly; they seize any cattle grazing without a pass; they look after the preservation of the forest, and are in general held answerable for any damage which may be done. The total cost of the establishment is Rs.2199 per month.”
It will be observed from the Memorandum that the chief preoccupation of the Sind Forest staff of the period appears to have been directed to seeing that their Rules were enforced and to revenue making. For there is no word on the subject
of any attempt to ameliorate the conditions of the woods, which were rapidly approaching the nature of scrub forest, or of their extenson. If the report, however, presents the situation existing in Sind at the time it affords evidence that the commencement of a forest conservancy considerably in advance of any other part of India, had already been instituted within the Province.
FOREST OPERATIONS IN THE PUNJAB AND WESTERN HIMALAYA
SIMLA IN 1853 AND ITS FUEL SUPPLY
or Sanitarium had come into being under this name
brought about by the growing decrease in fuel supplies. Neither the Punjab Government nor the Government of India had yet moved up to what subsequently became the Summer Capital.
The beginnings of Simla were as follows : A tract of land including part of Simla Hill was retained at the close of the Gurkha War of 1815-16. Upon this the first British residence, a mere cottage of wood and thatch, was erected in 1819 by Lieutenant Ross, Assistant Political Agent in the Hill States. Three years later, in 1822, the first permanent house was erected. This was the work of Lieutenant Kennedy, successor in office to Lieutenant Ross. His example was quickly followed by officers from Umbala and neighbouring stations, and by 1826 the new settlement had acquired a name.
Dr. Falconer, Superintendent of the Calcutta Botanical Gardens, who, as has been already described, visited and reported on the Tenasserim Forests, studied the question of the Simla fuel supplies during a visit to the Station in 1853. As a result of his investigations he wrote an able Memorandum on this matter, dated 16th November, 1853. This Memorandum furnishes an interesting pen picture of the position as it existed at the time, and present-day Simla residents may read with something more than curiosity of the troubles of their predecessors in the fair hill capital some seventy years ago.
* The Hill Stations,” wrote Falconer, “ have long been suffering from a yearly decrease in the supply of firewood. The
nearest patches of woodland have been gradually denuded of trees, so that the supplies have now to be drawn from a distance, with increase of labour and an enhancement of price. The station of Simla was fixed on a spot originally surrounded with trees; immediately below the ridge there were wooded crags and slopes covered with Rhododendron, Andromeda and oak, with many other species, while the ridge and slopes upon which the station stands, abounded in deodar and other Coniferae, and beyond it the lofty ridge of Mahasu was clothed with magnificent forest, descending on either side a long way down the slope. The trees adapted for most economical wants were in such abundance in the neighbourhood, that had the natural wealth been husbanded with prudence, it would have yielded a continuous and ample supply ; but except within the mere boundaries of the station itself, the trees were cut down for firewood with the most wasteful improvidence, and no adequate attempt was made to replace the felled trees by the growth of young plants."
Falconer's plan for providing in future for the essential fuel supplies of Simla and the neighbouring hill stations was, in the main, by forming plantations even to the extent of reacquiring land which had been put under agriculture for this purpose, a proposal which was unlikely to be viewed with approval by the Civil officers. Forest Conservancy, in its scientific aspects, he did not appear to consider a possibility; nor did he think it would be possible to stop the annual conflagrations caused wilfully by graziers. But this was the opinion commonly held at the time; and later by many Forest Officers when Forest Conservancy began to be introduced into the country. But some of the opinions expressed in the Memorandum were those of a far-seeing man, and much
a ahead of those held by the majority of officials of his day, and therefore he may be left to develop his exposition of the case and his suggested remedial proposals as expressed in the Memorandum. He continues :
“The attention of the authorities at Simla was long ago awakened to the impending evil, but the circumstance that the forest tracts surrounding the station belonged to protected hill chieftains, who had the uncontrolled management of their own possessions, deprived them of the power of providing a timeous and suitable remedy.
The same want, arising from like causes, has successively affected the stations of Sabathu, Kussowlee and Dugshai,